Svadhyaya and Self-Awareness

One of the greatest adepts, teachers, writers, and humanitarians of the 20th century, Swami Rama (1925-1996) is the founder of the Himalayan Institute. Born in Northern India, he was raised from early childhood by the Himalayan sage, Bengali Baba. Under the guidance of his master, he traveled from monastery to monastery and studied with a variety of Himalayan saints and sages, including his grandmaster who was living in a remote region of Tibet. In addition to this intense spiritual training, Swami Rama received higher education in both India and Europe. From 1949 to 1952, he held the prestigious position of Shankaracharya of Karvirpitham in South India. Thereafter, he returned to his master to receive further training at his cave monastery, and finally in 1969, came to the United States where he founded the Himalayan Institute. His best known work, Living With the Himalayan Masters, reveals the many facets of this singular adept and demonstrates his embodiment of the living tradition of the East.

“Svadhyaya means "self-study," which is the study of one's nature, including one's actions, thoughts, emotions and desires. Without svadhyaya and self-awareness you cannot understand your actions or behavior. In your current state of mind you do not know why you move the way you move, why you think the way you think, why you speak the way you speak or why you act the way you act.

Even though you are not aware of it, you do not make a single gesture or movement without mental effort. Although some of your actions and gestures are conscious, most of them are unconscious. For instance, sometimes you behave badly and later on you repent. You know you have acted foolishly and that you should not have behaved in such a manner, but you do not know why you did it. Before you do anything, you should be aware of what you are going to do and of all the consequences of doing it. Then, if you still want to do it and are prepared to accept the consequences, go ahead.

Svadhyaya and Self AwarenessWhen you start to tread the path and begin to study your internal states, you may find it very difficult because you have never faced yourself as you really are. It's easy to criticize others and see what is not good in them, but you prefer not to know your own imperfections because of a strong ego or sense of I-ness. Even though you may want to improve, you are afraid to know your own weaknesses. You think it isn't possible for you to improve, so you go along with the current wave of knowing everything that appears to be fascinating. You are not aware that the faculty of mind that wants to know everything in the external world can also lead you to that height where you can know the reality. If you have not known the reality, it is of no use to know anything else. It is like collecting junk and putting it in the basement - you are just creating more problems for yourself.

Those who remain on the thinking level do not get the opportunity to see what they are within. You are not as small as you think you are. There are many other glorious and wonderful levels within you. When you understand your thinking process and can go beyond it to the unconscious mind, you will discover that the world within is far superior to the external world. Svadhyaya will help you to encounter both the superficial complexes and the deeper potentials within you. Without self-study, enlightenment is not possible.”

 - Swami Rama in Sadhana: The Path to Enlightenment pages 23-24

Randall Krause

Book Front Cover Pathways to Self-Awareness(Click for more information)


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